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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) v. Giants (Lincecum)

The Brewers resume play tonight with (on paper, at least) one of the best pitching matchups we're likely to see this season.

Shaun Marcum (2.37 ERA, 2.69 FIP) has been everything the Brewers could have hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Blue Jays. Since getting roughed up a bit in his first start against the Reds he's posted a 2.10 ERA over 60 innings and allowed opposing batters to hit just .213/.246/.299 against him. On Saturday against the Rockies he pitched eight innings, allowing one run on just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. He threw a season high 108 pitches, but has had an extra day of rest since then.

Marcum is on pace to be the Brewers' workhorse this season. He's already pitched 64.2 innings in the Brewers' first 50 games, putting him on pace for 208 on the season. That would easily be a career high: Before last season he'd never thrown more than 159. That's pretty impressive for a guy who rarely breaks 100 pitches.

Marcum faced the Giants one time last season in interleague play, pitching just five innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and a career high five walks, striking out eight. Aubrey Huff took him deep in that game. Two current Giants have faced him ten times or more:

Miguel Tejada 23 .455 .478 1.000 1.478
Aubrey Huff 15 .455 .600 .909 1.509

Marcum faces a tough challenge tonight as he squares off against Tim Lincecum (2.06 ERA, 2.62 FIP), who just keeps on being Tim Lincecum. He's coming off his best outing of the season on Saturday, when he pitched a complete game shutout against the A's, holding them to three hits and walking no one while striking out six. He threw a season-high 133 pitches in that game (his highest since 2008 and the second highest of his career), but has had an extra day of rest since. 

Lincecum has adjusted his mix of pitches a bit this season, throwing a slider significantly more (from 8.5 to 13.4%) and his curve much less (from 13.9 to 6.8%). His low-to-mid 90's fastball and changeup are excellent, though, with FanGraphs estimating their values at +1.26 and +2.35 runs per 100, respectively.

The Brewers faced Lincecum twice last season. He struck out ten Brewers in seven innings in a Giants win on July 7 but pitched just five innings and allowed two runs on six hits on September 18 in a Brewer win. Four Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Corey Hart 21 .286 .286 .429 .714
Ryan Braun 20 .333 .400 .667 1.067
Prince Fielder 19 .286 .474 .429 .902
Rickie Weeks 10 .267 .421 .533 .954

Of all players that have faced Lincecum at least ten times, Braun is one of just five that have an OPS over 1.000. Chris Iannetta, Ryan Howard, Todd Helton and Orlando Hudson are the others.

There's no rest for the Plush, as TDot's in the starting lineup in his first game back from extended spring training (h/t to Haudricourt):

2B Rickie Weeks
RF Corey Hart
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
C Jonathan Lucroy
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
CF Nyjer Morgan
P Shaun Marcum

The bullpen:

Kameron Loe pitched 1.1 innings (12 pitches) on Wednesday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched .2 innings (16 pitches) on Wednesday.
Sergio Mitre, Mike McClendon and John Axford last pitched on Tuesday.
Marco Estrada and Tim Dillard last pitched on Monday.